Strike the Blood Vol. 3 - Manga Review

The underground battle against Eustach and Astarte has come to a head, while in the building above Asagi is terrified having found herself drawn into the conflict. Kojou and Himeragi must now pull out all the stops if they want any chance at saving their friend and the city they call home.

The Lowdown

Eustach is nearing his goal, a keystone that holds the physical and magical elements of the floating city of Itogami held in place. In order to stop him from doing irrevocable damage to the status quo, Kojou must find a way to use the enormous power sealed away inside his uncooperative beast vassals. Himeragi too must decide whether to keep to her assignment alone, or team up with the vampire under her charge in order to stop even more calamity, even if it goes against her orders.

How Was it?

I would love to be able to say that after two mediocre volumes, the Strike the Blood manga finally found its footing and made me care about the series. I really would love to be able to say that, but I can’t. All of the issues that have plagued the series rear their heads again in volume 3, making it equally as boring, bland and stereotypical as ever.

One of the few legitimately cool panels this time.

One of the few legitimately cool panels this time.

The first of these issues I faced again in this third volume was the fairly hokey writing. The first chapter begins with Asagi coming to after an attack that has left her upper-floor room in tatters. She is scared and hurt (unsurprisingly), however within a couple of pages she goes from terrified to almost jolly over the course of a single phone call. Her sudden turn-about face threw me off guard immediately. With the small inconsistencies like that scene, coupled with a plot that feels like a second-rate A Certain Magical Index knockoff, and cast of bland anime archetypes it all ends up feeling like a bad parody of itself, one that isn’t funny or entertaining.

If there’s one small high point to the volume it’s that the majority of the plot was concerned with the battle between Eustach, Astarte, Kojou and Himeragi. That is not to say that the battle is anything spectacular (it mostly isn’t sparing a couple cool shots), but only that when the volume is concerned about action sequences, it is not focusing on the deadbeat worldbuilding or boring characters.

Okay, cat-man here actually looks cool. Can he be a regular character instead of a bunch of schoolgirls who all look the same?

Okay, cat-man here actually looks cool. Can he be a regular character instead of a bunch of schoolgirls who all look the same?

However if there is one thing that fails both the action and the writing sides of this volume it is the art. I find the art of this series to be utterly bland and boring 90% of the time (see below for a good example of its aesthetic). The majority of the character designs feel under-detailed, and under-shaded, and most of the panels are just uninteresting to look at. Even the action scenes are let down by the art, with most of the actions feeling as wrote and stock-standard as the character personalities. The panels often didn’t feel like “action” scenes at all, just an excuse to fill the negative blank space with action lines. There were a dozen or so pages that I felt were good, even great (mostly the opening/ending pages of the action chapters, and a fight between the loli teacher and a leopard-man: see above) but those were so far spread out that they couldn’t bolster my lackluster opinion of the rest.

The last point I’ll note that just baffled me in this volume was the handling of the “fanservice” and sexual undertones to the volume. It’s a small part of the book, but one which was so utterly mishandled I was almost in disbelief. There are a couple of action scenes in the main fight that seem to be only included as pandering sexual fanservice (including one panel which is just an upskirt shot that felt the need to make the skirt warp in such a way as to not show any panties). It is neither sexy, nor worth the effort, as anyone annoyed with that kind of “fanservice” will still find it annoying, while those who do want it would come away disappointed in the execution. In other places some characters in totally unsexy situations (like being attacked during a battle: see above) are drawn like they are sexually aroused, and places where Kojou is supposed to be “turned on” aren’t. (Lets also just pass by the vampirism = pregnancy joke, which I read like a Vampirism = STI joke). These few moments just feel amateurish, and make an already bland book even less engaging, and just downright perplexing to read.

Final Thoughts

The Strike the Blood manga feels like a series without an audience. Whatever “story” the original books had either does not shine in this adaptation, or is simply wasn’t there in the first place. It feels like it wants to be a ‘sexy” vampire story, but fails at making it engaging or sexy, with an art team who’s only solid point is that they can make cover art that looks like the light novel covers. It is not a series I despise, it’s just an utterly bland story, with an execution which leaves a lot to be desired. At this point, I would consider telling you to try out the light novels, or the anime if you’re still interested in Strike the Blood.


Strike the Blood Vol. 3 was published by Yen Press on May 24, 2016 and translated by Jeremiah Borque. The original work was created by Gakuto Mikumo with art by TATE, and published in Dengeki Daioh. Volume 5 releases in English on September 27, 2016 .

Verdict:

C-

Date of Publication: May 24th, 2016

Translator: Jeremiah Borque

Author: Tate

Publisher: Yen Press